A strange paradox


Looking back on what I would call a strange reality, being homeless while at the same time being busier than I’ve ever been in my life, is a paradox I am still struggling with.

To think it all started with one letter to an editor of change.org still boggles my mind. I would never have met Mark Horvath if it hadn’t been for change.org, nor would I have run across Eric Sheptock. Thanks to Mark I have met several grand souls that I am extremely grateful to count as friends (You all know who you are!).

Do you find it odd that the more you go out of your way to serve your community, the more you run into people with negative attitudes about what you’re doing? I love it! What better way is there of gauging attitudes among the masses about what homelessness is and who the homeless are? We are people and yes…some have addiction and mental issues but hey, so are people who aren’t homeless!

I look at it like this, taking the path of least resistance sure does look like conformity to me and from the looks of things, conformity doesn’t seem to be working so well. I strongly suspect that the service providers who take a different approach are the ones with the most success rates. Let’s be real here, although shelters can provide an immediate place to be on any given night, they were not intended to be permanent housing. Not only that, many people have to be turned away when the shelters are full and shelters are seeing unprecedented numbers right now. Tent cities are mushrooming as an alternative to the shelter system and yet…in a country that is supposedly wealthy….people are still dying in the cold because they had nowhere else to go but under a bridge or the nearest sidewalk.

Why do families have to experience homelessness when it could’ve been avoided if relatives in a position to help actually did so? How do soup kitchens help folks by putting limits on how many times the needy can eat there? Why is it a crime to sleep in your own car but not considered inhumane to penalize and jail folks for simply having no where to go?

Here’s one that has always bothered me: Why is the state willing to pay a stranger to raise your kids but won’t lift a finger to guarantee housing for the parents? If you don’t think this is true, look up foster parenting.

But what do I know about what it’s like to be a homeless mother………

Yes indeed, we humans and the way we think is a strange paradox.


About invisibull

Let's see now, what should I say on here to make people think I'm more interesting than I actually am...I'm a single mother of two with a passion for helping others less fortunate than myself. I like to write, finished a book and am working on another. Other than that I live a real-life video game where the goal is to get out of homelessness and provide a better future for my kids. Peace!
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6 Responses to A strange paradox

  1. Galaxian says:

    The situation with this issue seems to me unlikely to improve. If you are not homeless, then it’s simply not your problem. Hence no incentive to do anything. It may take another 1930s-style economic depression to bring any calls for further modernization of this country’s social welfare system. Hmm….Tent cities? Maybe it’s on the way.

  2. Jose_X says:

    Hey invisibull, the problem with homelessness is that our system of laws supports an ownership class over a service-provider class (despite the US Constitution’s explicit empowering of federal law-making to address the goal of helping promote the general welfare rather than the specific welfare of a minority class).

    Let me draw attention to this blog posting and its comments http://www.techdirt.com/blog/casestudies/articles/20110217/01444113148/case-study-how-ted-learned-that-giving-it-away-increased-both-popularity-revenue.shtml#comments

    Although that link might appear to be unrelated to homelessness, the fact is that Congress supports those who accumulate wealth, for example, who buy out legally created broad and long-lasting intellectual monopolies and are able to buy out exclusive rights to the use of land and many other economic resources.

    Those who have past wealth, access, and a voluminous trading skills (which can sometimes equate to an ability to make their brand of “bull” invisible to others — no disrespect intended :-0 ) are rewarded over everyone else. Naturally, if you have $1 million in the bank and exclusive monopolies, aren’t you very likely to be able to beat out most other people in competition? So past wealth accumulation (much of it supported through extreme exclusivity laws) gives, each tax year, their beneficiaries a significant head start over most everyone else, who lack such large quantities of wealth. It’s a system of laws that don’t just tolerate or support wide inequities in wealth distribution, but actually help promote such.

    I worry about intellectual property issues (IP monpolies) because as the future becomes more digital (information-based) in nature, the potential for more people to be able to make a decent living goes up, but those with existing vast quantities of wealth are trying hard to have laws written that will support the status quo and ownership class. And it is particularly troublesome with intellectual property because this is a good that is ordinarily without scarcity. There is no issue of who should have preferred access to walk on this or that piece of land at this or that point in time or to eat this “last” doughnut, but it’s one of specifically trying to create tension (scarcities) and “ownership” where none otherwise need exist and where we are all better off by avoiding such ownership issues.. at least to the extent currently supported by broad and long-lasting patent and copyright monopoly laws with draconian penalties for infringement. Neither the general welfare nor progress are being promoted.

    Without addressing the core of economic and social repercussions of a misguided attitude behind some laws, we can’t find solutions that many people will be able to get behind. We will continue to have many people sympathize but not feel that there is any solution that would be equitable to resolve homelessness. There might be a popular inclination to let things be and hope the homeless will simply “get their act together and get a job”. After all, “we are working hard and also struggling.”

    We have to remember that the wealth class has interests in being able to and has financial power to divert popular anger from their unjust wealth (exclusive ownership rights) laws — an entitlement if I’ve ever seen one — to demonizing those who are struggling in our current biased and unethical system and are inevitably appealing in some form or other to the kindness and support from others apparently without putting much back into the system. Well, it’s hard to put things in when you lack so much basic access. After all, don’t the wealthy repeat over and over that without tax incentives and freedoms on top of their huge incomes they can’t be motivated to create jobs? Well, without basic incentives and freedoms on tiny or nonexistent incomes most people can’t create jobs either (eg, for themselves) or even work in them with any sort of real enthusiasm (that, eg, leads to superior quality). The problem is that we have taken so much access from the public to bestow upon a few able to hoard up such legal rights and then feel entitled and snug about it all.

    Keep blogging if you can and thanx.

  3. Jose_X says:

    Note, I am not arguing against property rights, to the extent these help promote the general welfare, including giving people peace, sanity, and motivation to work in ways that help society. I am arguing against too-strong property rights (or too-strong exclusivity rights) that end up doing more harm than good to society. Every exclusivity has the potential to motivate some to work harder at adding some new value to society, but this always comes with an associated opportunity cost everyone else collectively pays.

    Is there a reason we can’t generally, instead of having exclusive land rights (especially for disposable/non-live-essential property), have instead lease rights where those rights can be lost back to society if sufficient harm is created after a well-defined relatively short lease period expires or if the opportunity costs to others has gone way up during that time?

    We naturally will consider the costs to individuals when changing environments, of course. We want fair laws. For example, we always want to try and support access rights and privileges to those who are working something and also reserve rights to those who have paid “their dues” in the past, but we want to give opportunity to as many as possible. And how could we have any laws in place where we have so much land and property going unused while many go homeless? If our private ownership laws lead to a private market that allows such inhumane situations to occur, we need to adjust our private ownership laws.

    Remember, at least in the US, it wasn’t too many centuries back when illegal European immigrants came here and snatched the land from those who had been living here before.. and then bequeathed it to their privileged descendants. If we can make such unjust laws and generally entitle an ownership class, we can certainly soften our laws to more equitably entitle a larger portion of the population (including.. gasp… entitle everyone to basics of life over entitlement to large quantities of disposable wealth).

    This said, we need to make sure we are encouraging population controls. The world’s human populations can’t keep breeding like rabbits. Of course, here as well, another perhaps unintuitive lesson arises: if humans feel empowered and relatively comfortable, with access to a diverse array of birth control, these humans are also likely to voluntarily keep the population levels stable or even slightly decreasing.

  4. Jose_X says:

    I forgot to mention. A trick in any model is getting it to work in practice rather than just in theory. Who makes decisions on behalf of society, for example, and is not corruption a concern?

    Thanks to the Internet, we now have tools that can allow a greater portion of people to practically help decide important matters. We should insist from our government representatives on as much transparency and delegation of powers from our government as possible. When you represent the public or many others, your responsibilities to us go up.

    • Jose_X says:

      I want to apologize ahead of time for this comment since it is likely a little too over-the- top in a number of ways, but, for those who want to follow it, it gives an example of how we can really improve upon how the public is represented in cases where today our government representatives relinquish too many of the public’s rights to wealthy owners.

      >> Thanks to the Internet, we now have tools that can allow a greater portion of people to practically help decide important matters.

      Let’s imagine a scenario that puts together the idea of Internet voting and of government not relinquishing all rights of the People to private interests: stock ownership of large firms where a very large body of citizens are represented via a mandatory public-private partnership in which individuals citizens can cast votes.

      Congress passes a law that all firms engaging in interstate commerce must yield 50% voting rights and x% income rights to “the People”. These shares would not be tradable (ie, the People could not surrender or grow their stake).

      We have seen the public own at a large scale before (the gov bailout of auto manufacturers, the Green Bay packers, credit unions (in a sense), etc).

      This mandated partnership would effectively mean that these firms would try to maximize profits but within the limitations set in place by “the People”. For any given firm, a not-for-profit representative body of the People would exist.

      Let’s say there was a voting opportunity for stockholders. Then all who wanted to vote would cast their ballot or allow a proxy to cast on their behalf. Then these votes would be scaled to represent 50% of the total votes cast. This way anyone who wanted to have a say in how any or all large firms (conducting interstate business) would be run, could rest comfortably that they or someone they trusted was voting on the issues as these would arise.

      A hypothetical example: I assign my votes for all 25,000 firms that are run this way to an organization serving as voting proxy for others and whom I trust. For example, I don’t want to have to vote for all 25,000 firms as voting opportunities come up year round, so I assign my vote to HomelessSolutionsFictitiousNonProfit, whom I trust 100%. I may of course divide my potential votes among many proxies, depending on how I feel at the moment and which I trust to speak on my behalf on certain issues (not to mention that HomelessSolutionsFictitiousNonProfit might only do proxy voting for 10 firms rather than all 25,000). I can change to a different proxy at any time and even cast the votes myself or let my allotted vote go uncast.

      Let’s now look at a specific hypothetical vote result. It’s for company ABCDemolitionsImaginaryForProfitInc. The question on the ballot is whether or not to make a major investment to modernize a water plant just barely meeting EPA standards to go 20% further than those standards require. While using a modern plant might pay down the line (in brand value and in electricity savings and other efficiencies), there will be a clear near-term monetary cost involved. The vote result: Including assigned proxy votes, we’ll say that the public cast about 30 million votes: 20 million yea, 10 million nay. Other stockholders cast 300 million votes (here votes are not per person but per shares owned): 180 million nay, 120 million yea. I won’t cover the details of the math, but this basically means that the yea’s won narrowly because the 50% voting power represented by the public had enough yea’s to overcome the fraction of nay’s from the 50% voting power of private shareholders. Had the public not voted, the nay’s would have won. It would make sense that more than half of the private investing stockholders would reject (since this will cut into near-term profits) while most of the public would support the upgrade (since individuals from the public own almost no shares but do care about pollution). If the People did not own 50% of the votes, the decision that won out would have been one against the wishes of most of the public, but with public voting added to investor voting, we found that there was enough support to sacrifice a bit on profits in order to scale back pollution even beyond EPA standards.

      This requirement to add public voting into important decisions of large firms (which are engaging in interstate commerce regulated by Congress) seems to be what most of the public would want. We still have freedoms for private investors to profit and seek control, but they will have to work more within bounds the public strongly supports. The public is affected by the decisions taken by these large firms. We would have a way to make sure these firms don’t internalize profits and externalize costs that hurt all of us. We don’t have to worry about corruption from government representatives since we have a democracy in action. We have the technology to pull this off using the Internet. Most people don’t have to be experts yet still will have their will represented via proxy voting of their choosing. We have Constitutional clearance and support (eg, to promote the general welfare and also in regulating interstate commerce). There is freedom and motivation for healthy economic activity. We even will have those with great management skills and business acumen yet a propensity to seek profit aggressively ahead of what is good for society, get throttled. What is there not to like?

  5. Jose_X says:

    Invisibull, consider adding flattr ( http://flattr.com/ ) to your postings so that people can contribute micro-payments to those they like.

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